TBTB (Throwback Thursday Books) – Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold | LibraryThing

I originally read Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones during Christmas break my senior year of college. The balance between the macabre and whimsy never left me. The distinct point of view (POV) struck me like not much else.

Some years later, I saw a nice, hardcover edition on the shelf among the Friends of Freeman book sale. Then, over Independence Day weekend 2014, I read this book again. Eventually, I checked out the film based on the book.

Reviews of book and the movie both may be coming soon. As this title seems polarizing, comments are most welcome! If you’ve read it, what did you think? If you’ve also seen the movie, what did you think of the interpretation? I’ve got some strong opinions about both.

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Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far Thing (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)

Jorie’s Store – The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, Book 3)

Title and Author(s):  The Sweet Far Things (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)
Release Date:
 Dec 26, 2007
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780375890604
Pages: 819
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: Hey, I wanted to find out how it all ended for Gemma Doyle and her friends!

Spoiler Alert: Readers must read A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels before reading this review.

Summary: As sixteen-year old Gemma Doyle prepares for her London debut in 1896, she also copes with harsh realities: her mother’s murder the previous summer, her father’s addiction to laudanum, and her magical powers in the Realms being solely hers. Many both worlds will do anything for Gemma’s magic. Compounding the issue is the absence of  her reluctant friend, former Rakshana brotherhood member Kartik. In this otherworldly coming of age saga, Gemma must figure out who she is and her place in it all before all Hell breaks loose.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far ThingI didn’t think that “nice girls” became actresses at the time. I thought this attitude was quite progressive for Victorian London.

What I Liked: They’re kids and they’re trying to figure out who they are. They are also trying to find their place in the world.

What I Disliked: Did this book really need to be 819 pages? Couldn’t this been expanded to a quartet? After page 700, this became work for me to read. That’s not good.

Song: The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army 

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Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)

Jorie’s Store – Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)

Title and Author(s):  Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)
Release Date:
 August 23, 2005
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0385730292
Pages: 560
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: Well, I finished A Great and Terrible Beauty and I wanted to know what happened next to Gemma and her friends.

Spoiler Alert: Readers must read A Great and Terrible Beauty before reading this review.

Summary: It’s Christmas 1895 and Gemma can’t wait to going to London, having fun with friends Felicity and Ann,  filling her dance card at holiday balls, and spending time with her family. Setting the fact that her father is unwell and her grandma is consumed with worry, Gemma manages to enjoy her time. Simon Middleton, Lord Denby, is dazzled by Gemma and begins to pursue her. However, Gemma is also pursued by three ghostly girls. They can only be from the realms. So, Gemma takes Felicity and Ann to the magical realms. They are reunited with Pippa in the realms but all is not well. Kartik has returned, ordering Gemma to find the Temple in the realms and to bind the magic. Now, Gemma must face all of her fears – the apparitions, her father’s opium addiction, and her late mother’s foe – Circe.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s Rebel AngelsI didn’t know that the infamous Bedlam Hospital hosted balls for its patients.

What I Liked: Gemma was definitely a teenager. She was trying to figure out who she was and how she fit into the real world and the realms. I liked how she ultimately chooses the right thing.

What I Disliked: This book seemed like work. I enjoyed reading the first book but this one wasn’t as fascinating to me. Also, I didn’t care much for the book beginning with Kartik’s voice. These books are referred to as the Gemma Doyle Trilogy for a reason, right?

Song: Loreena McKennitt – Mystic Dream

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Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)

Jorie’s Store – A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)

(Written 17 February 2013)

Title and Author(s):  A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Release Date:
 December 09, 2003
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780375890499
Pages: 432
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: When I installed the Overdrive Digital Media App on my Nook Tablet, I quickly sought available fiction. When I saw Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty listed as available, I checked out the book and downloaded it sans USB cable. It felt good, too!

Summary: Life seems a bore for teenaged Gemma Doyle. Her parents won’t let her be part of London society but keep her in India. Then, on 21 June 1895, Gemma’s sixteenth birthday, a scary creature scares her mother and her mother commits suicide. So, Gemma is shipped off to Spence Academy for Young Ladies, outside of London. Gemma suffers loneliness, guilt, and ominous visions. She doesn’t immediately make friends and seems to have a young Indian man stalking her. Soon, Gemma gains three friends – fearless Felicity Worthington, beautiful Pippa Cross, and talented Ann Bradshaw. She also learns that coming to Spence, the visions, and the talisman her mother left her are all connected.

A Great and Terrible Beauty begins the three-part saga which follows Gemma and her friends into a story about destiny, power, friendship, and duty.

One Thing I Learned from reading Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible BeautyThe British subjects abroad didn’t have to regularly attend church.

What I Liked: Bray knew Gemma Doyle well. She expressed herself in a believable way. I knew a teenager narrated the story. Gemma also defended and brought her roommate – scholarship student Ann Bradshaw into an inner circle at Spence.

What I Disliked: Sometimes, the words seemed anachronistic. I wondered if Gemma or her friends would truly say certain things in 1895.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance Official video – YouTube

Setting: Bombay India, London UK, England

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Top Ten Books That Get Candice Into The Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish
Since I don’t read much that gets me in the Halloween Spirit, I’ve asked my pal Candice P. (June Reader of the Month) to come up with her top ten books.
  1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  2. Stephen King’s The Green Mile
  3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  4. Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
  5. Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles Series
  6. Stephen King’s The Shining
  7. Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  9. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
  10. R.L. Stine’s Fear Street

Stephen King’s 11/22/63

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King | LibraryThing

King, S. (2011). 11/22/63: A novel. New York: Scribner. 9781451627282

Reasons for Reading : I read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone a few years ago after reading King’s memoir On Writing. In The Dead Zone, teacher and coma survivor John Smith asks “If you could kill Hitler, would you?” When I saw 11/22/63 on the NYT Bestsellers List, I realized King took this same question in a different direction. I added my name to the waiting list for a copy from HCPL. Later, I purchased a copy from the Friends of Freeman Library Bookstore.

Summary: Jake Epping teaches English at Lisbon Falls High in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He also earns
extra money by taking on GED courses. Reading janitor Harry Dunning’s essay about the horrific night when Harry lost his family and gained a limp fifty years prior moves the normally dry-eyed Jake to tears.

Soon after Harry earns his GED, diner owner Al shares a secret with Jake; there’s a portal outside his supply room which leads to September 1958. Thus, Al enlists Jake on a mission to save JFK from assassination.

What I Liked : I appreciated the short segments which allowed me to read a little bit at a time. I also enjoyed the whole “What if?” aspect. I liked how King limited some of the possibilities by creating a 1958 portal instead of putting Jake into a time machine that could go anywhere or anytime.

What I Disliked : As a Texan (a Houstonian), my familiarity with state geography is above average 🙂 . I wouldn’t describe Dallas and Killeen as being all that close. Also, Killeen has two “L’s” unlike how it’s spelled throughout the book. Then, there’s the whole saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That’s because the state itself is the second biggest in the USA. Having gone to college in Waco which is in Central Texas, I can attest to the fact that I could not smell the oil fumes from Midland and Odessa. Lastly, I didn’t think this book should’ve been over 800 pages!

 Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: In the Mood by Glenn Miller – YouTube

Setting : Maine, Florida, Texas

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Stephen King’s The Dead Zone

Read on the couch while watching TV

King, S. (1979). The dead zone. New York: Viking Press. 9780670260775

While reading Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, I realized The Dead Zone he wrote was the same one that inspired the recent TV show starring Anthony Michael Hall. I requested one of the two copies in the system and soon read the book from cover to cover.

Nice guy John Smith is left comatose in October, 1970 by a severe car accident. He comes out of a five year coma with many dead zones in his brain but an uncanny ability to see past and present just by touching a person. When he shakes the hand of a rising politician, he sees doom. What is John Smith to do?

King follows Johnny Smith and a number of other characters through this crazy ride of a story. Previously, I’d read Carrie

and The Green Mile by King. I definitely preferred The Dead Zone to Carrie. Not only was it a riveting story, The Dead Zone also was a capsule which predated me. I found the views on Vietnam, Watergate, and 1970s politics fascinating.

King created clear portraits of his characters. His depictions of bad guys such as Greg Stillson were frightening! Still, Johnny was an authentic hero.

I saw a few episodes of the series which was “based on characters” from the novel. I liked it, too, but wished they hadn’t messed so much with Johnny’s parents, Herb and Vera Smith. C’est la vie!

Three and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Places: Maine, New Hampshire, the United States

Word Bank:

  1. Psychic
  2. Psychometry

For more on Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, check out the following links: